According to official sources, the first joint stock company as well as the first stock exchange came into the picture in parallel in 1602, and in one and the same country too, in the Netherlands. The Dutch East India Company was the first to try drawing money by selling shares and promising profits to theirninvestors.
A trading floor was required, and thus the first stock exchange was opened in Amsterdam. In 1608, a commodity market was opened there, where samples of various goods were delivered, while large lots were waiting in warehouses and ships. Later the standards were elaborated, and players could operate without samples.
Initially, on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange itself only shares of the British and Dutch East India Companies were in trade. The promissory notes were also quoted; it was possible to purchase government bonds issued by Great Britain, Holland, Portugal. Later, during the American reclamation, the West India Company shares entered the stock exchange. A total of 44 securities were available to investors.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange was in play up to September 2000. It was not closed; thereafter it became a part of Euronext, which thus united the stock exchanges of Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam.
A Struggle for the Right of Precedence
Amsterdam Stock Exchange is only officially considered the first one. The British can challenge the right of ‘precedence’: in spite of the fact that the London Stock Exchange legally appeared only in 1801, 199 years hence the Dutch Exchange, it had actually been in operation longer. The first stock exchange in the UK was established in 1565, when Thomas Gresham, a financial agent and adviser to the King, founded the Royal Exchange. It became the shopping center of London, and gained an official standing in 1571.
However, for over a century the Royal Exchange was a commodity market: stocks and government bonds entered the trade only in 1695. Almost 80 years it took for the brokers to raise funds and erect a separate building for the New Jonathan Stock, which was finally opened in 1773. Later it became the London Stock Exchange.
The history of stock markets is sometimes confusing. In fact, back in the Middle Ages, in those times when humanity shifted from subsistence production to proper commodity-money relations, the first securities, money and trading floors appeared. Many exchanges used to work unofficially, many of the legal ones folded up and were forgotten. The English may challenge the Dutch for the "precedence" of their stock exchange, but if you are interested in the oldest in existence, the answer is obvious - it's the London Stock Exchange or LSE.